News Leak Centre

No Fear No Favour

Rollercoaster riders asked not to scream while riding to avoid the spread of COVID

Visitors to amusement parks in Japan are banned from screaming while riding rollercoasters to avoid the spread of the contagious coronavirus, while the limited football fans allowed into stadiums this weekend are also restricted from shouting, singing, clapping or waving scarves while supporting their teams.

Fuji-Q Highland theme park in Japan after reopening on 1 June after a three-month closure due to the pandemic, has strictly asked its visitors to follow recommendations issued by the amusement park association and contribute to avoiding the spread of the COVID by not shouting or screaming.

Some customers also annoyed with the decision and have complained that it is impossible to stay quiet on rides, particularly the two-kilometer-long Fujiyama rollercoaster, which reaches speeds of 130km/h and drops 70 meters at one point. Named after nearby Mount Fuji, the rollercoaster was the fastest and tallest in the world when it opened in 1996.

Responding to its customers’ complaints, the park released a video of two stony-faced senior executives riding Fujiyama without uttering a peep, urging visitors to imitate them and “Keep your screams inside.”

The theme park then launched a #Mao (serious face) campaign through which riders who post a video of their silent, masked and serious faces while riding Fujiyama on social media will be selected to enter a draw to win free tickets to the park.

“The response to the campaign had been encouraging but that some customers were still not happy about the guidelines,” a Fuji Q spokesperson told the Guardian.

Most theme parks in Japan have now reopened, with the guideline of compulsorily wearing masks at all of them. Universal Studios Japan in Osaka opened its doors to annual pass holders and local residents only on 19 June, while Tokyo Disneyland began admitting visitors again on 1 July.

Restrictions on visitor numbers and the serving of alcohol remain in place, while even football fans will be greeted with stricter rules this weekend.

Japan’s football league which was suspended due to the pandemic after playing the opening matched of the season on the weekend of 21 February, has resumed on 4 July and a maximum of 5,000 fans per game will be allowed to watch at stadiums from Saturday.

The J League has issued 70 pages of guidelines on anti-virus measures, covering players, staff, and fans. Forbidden behavior for fans includes chants, claps, and flag-waving.

Satoshi Kuroda, a spokesperson for Shimizu S-Pulse said, “If people do break the rules, we’re supposed to reprimand them, so we’re still considering exactly how to respond.” Shimizu S-Pulse is a top-tier club that plays its home games at the IAI Stadium Nihondaira about 165km south-west of Tokyo.

Kuroda added, “Fans can bring big flags and banners in to display, but aren’t allowed to wave them around; that’s going to be tricky as if people get excited they may want to do so. We understand their feelings, but the rules will be explained when they get permission to bring them in.”

Having said that Kuroda also mentioned, “but if the rules keep getting broken then it’s possible the league will stop letting fans in again”.

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